diversity digest
Summer 02
Institutional Vision and Leadership
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Bildner Family Foundation Funds a NJ Campus Diversity Initiative
By Heather D. Wathington, Editor and Director of Programs, Office of Diversity, Equity and Global Initiatives, AAC&U


 

MOTIVATED BY A STRONG DESIRE TO "REDUCE INTERGROUP PREJUDICE AND IMPROVE INTERGROUP RELATIONS", ALLAN AND JOAN BILDNER, FOUNDERS OF THE BILDNER FAMILY FOUNDATION, WERE INSPIRED TO HELP NEW JERSEY COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES REALIZE THEIR DIVERSITY GOALS. IN APRIL, EIGHT NEW JERSEY INSTITUTIONS WERE AWARDED $225,000 OVER A THREE-YEAR PERIOD TO TRANSFORM THEIR INSTITUTIONS USING DIVERSITY AS A CATALYST.

The idea for a comprehensive statewide New Jersey campus diversity initiative had been a grantmaking interest for the Bildners for several years. Last year, the Bildners worked with AAC&U and The Philanthropic Initiative, a non-profit consulting firm, to launch a three-year initiative for colleges and universities. By sponsoring this project, the Bildners hoped to create a statewide network of institutions committed to using diversity as a tool to create systemic change on their campuses.

“We are delighted AAC&U was chosen to help manage this statewide project,” said AAC&U Vice President Caryn McTighe Musil. “The strategy to ultimately influence an entire state through a network of schools with strong diversity programs is a solid one. It builds on the decade of work by Paula Rothenberg’s New Jersey Project and can be a model for other states to adopt.”

The project began in the fall of 2001 with a call for proposals inviting all New Jersey institutions to apply for the proposed diversity initiative. The foundation’s advisory board selected eight institutions: Bloomfield College, Bergen Community College, County College of Morris, Princeton University, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Rowan University, Rutgers University, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Each of the institutions demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity and proposed a solid plan for how the Bildner grant initiative would further their institutional diversity priorities.

Shortly after notification of their awards, institutions assembled campus teams and attended a four-day summer institute in June at Princeton University. The institute was organized by AAC&U with support from the Philanthropic Initiative and featured seminars, workshops, participatory dialogue sessions, and consultant meetings aimed at helping the institutions achieve their diversity transformation goals. The institute helped campus teams refine a conceptual framework for their specific campus plans, provided greater familiarity with intellectual debates about diversity and democracy, and offered concrete practical steps and resources to assist teams in their work. Edgar Beckham, senior fellow at AAC&U, served as consultant to each of the institutions during the institute and will visit each campus in spring 2003.

In planning the institute at Princeton, AAC&U focused on two major goals to support institutional transformation. The first was to provide each school with adequate institutional team time to refine goals, strategies, and planning so that the teams could return to campus even more prepared to set their plans in action. The second goal was to introduce participants to a statewide network of resources inherent in each institution that would be useful to each school and to one another over the three-year period.

A synopsis of each of the campus goals follows.

Bloomfield College Bloomfield, New Jersey
Hoping to become a more integrated resource to the larger community, Bloomfield College has embarked on establishing an Institute for Cross Cultural Communication that offers seminars and workshops to faculty, students, and staff with the goal of broadening and deepening the connections between local and global cultures. The institute will also offer cross-cultural communications and workshops and programming off campus as well. This fall, Bloomfield organized and co-sponsored with the Faculty Development Committee a series of Teachers Talking to Teachers workshops.

Bergen Community College Paramus, New Jersey
Bergen Community College has begun to develop a Center for the Study of Intercultural Understanding that builds upon and connects the disparate diversity initiatives dispersed across the campus. In May 2002, the center awarded ten mini-grants for the 2002-2003 academic year for campus projects devoted to fostering intercultural understanding. Projects awarded include a hip-hop symposium, a literary art reading series, as well as a minority recruitment program. BCC has established a Web site for the center’s activities at www.bergen.edu/CSIU/indexcsiu.asp#.

County College of Morris Morristown, New Jersey
County College of Morris has called upon three newly established faculty task forces to conduct self-assessments of all campus programs to determine the extent to which diversity is integrated into the curriculum. The goal of the college’s teaching/learning initiative is threefold: to integrate diversity and global awareness education into every degree program, increase faculty support for and capability to deliver effective diversity education, and increase interactively planned community education that promotes diversity and global awareness.

Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey
Building upon the past success of the Sustained Dialogues project, Princeton University is establishing Dialogue@ Princeton, an initiative which supports current and new projects to ensure honest, ongoing dialogue on many topics—race, ethnicity, gender, faith, class, and social justice—among Princeton students, faculty, and staff. The project recently hired a program coordinator and has focused on increasing faculty and administrator membership.

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Pomona, New Jersey
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey seeks to create world citizens, promote civic responsibility, and foster an environment that welcomes all individuals to a culture of mutual respect through faculty development programs and their First Year Initiative. Currently, they have two faculty development workshops planned. As part of the First Year Initiative, Stockton has surveyed first year students on their experiences and attitudes on diversity issues. They plan to survey the students again at the completion of the semester. In addition, Stockton has created a Web site for their Bildner activities at www.stockton.edu/~teaching/bildner/index.htm.

Rowan University Glassboro, New Jersey
Rowan University is designing interdisciplinary team-taught courses addressing diversity and democracy which will be offered to approximately half the first-year student population as part of the university’s First Year Experience, a mandatory program for all first year students. The Rowan team has planned two faculty development workshops for January and May for seven faculty teams.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey New Brunswick, Newark and Camden, New Jersey
Rutgers University’s focus is on developing curricular and co-curricular programs that focus on intercultural interaction and linking these programs so that intercultural issues become central to the undergraduate experience. Using a two-pronged approach involving faculty development and curricular transformation, each campus of the Rutgers University system—Newark, New Brunswick, and Camden—is adopting its own program to foster intercultural interaction on campus. The campus is currently selecting Rutgers Intercultural Fellows, a fellows program for faculty interested in diversifying their courses.

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Newark, New Jersey
Hoping to establish cultural competency standards for every person working or learning at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), UMDNJ is developing competency-training for the curriculum, which will be required of all students. UMDNJ has been busy hiring a project coordinator for the initiative and planning facilitator training for faculty.

Conclusion
The outlook for this strategic, comprehensive initiative is both exciting and encouraging. The range of projects demonstrates that the campus teams possess a readiness for experimentation and a wealth of expertise. Over the next few years, The Bildner Foundation will bring the statewide network together to work and to learn and, hopefully, to institutionalize diversity into the very fabric of the institutions.

 


“The strategy to ultimately influence an entire state through a network of schools with strong diversity programs is a solid one. It builds on the decade of work by Paula Rothenberg’s New Jersey Project and can be a model for other states to adopt.”

—AAC&U Vice President Caryn McTighe Musil.

 

 

 

 
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